Deep in southern India, in the state of Tamil Nadu, lies Udhagamandalam, known lovingly by all as Ooty. A popular summer retreat since the days of the British Raj, Ooty’s weather is gentle all year round, like a perennial spring. With its perfect climate and picturesque vistas of rolling hills and peaceful lakes, Ooty is rightly crowned the Queen of Hill Stations. And there is quite a lot to do too. We take a look at the tourist places in Ooty you must visit.
Places to visit in Ooty: Beautiful Water Bodies
1. Ooty Lake
Formed by damming streams, Ooty Lake is everything you’d want for a lovely day out. The water is clean and calm nestled in the middle of the banks on which tall, majestic Eucalyptus trees grow, adding their gentle spicy fragrance to the air.
It is picture perfect. On hot summer days, there is nothing nicer than splashing around here. There are also houseboats for hire which make for a lovely private getaway.
2. Emerald Lake
A popular place for picnics, Emerald Lake is also a pleasure for both the casual and serious bird watcher with many different species of birds both local and migratory singing in the trees.
The scenic beauty of Emerald Lake is ethereal and the area is a filled with indigenous flora and fauna species. The lake itself is known for its abundant fish and aquatic life. Sitting in the midst of tea plantations, you can also go trekking to the nearby tea plantations and even buy yourself some tea.
3. Kalhatti Falls
The Kalhatti falls are a little bit of heaven on earth. Teeming with birds of all kinds, it is a bird watchers paradise. But, those are not the only visitors to watch out for.
Being a source of fresh water, you can also see herds of elephant come to drink and play about here. This is a perfect place for the whole family and especially for those who need a break from everything concrete and computers.
4. Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake is a lovely spot for day picnics with family and friends. The banks of the lake are plush with flowers and greenery and the mountains surrounding the lake are ideal for trekking and exploring.
You can also do a little fishing at the lake if you’re interested with the trout hatchery providing you with rods and bait. Camping is allowed so you can set up your tent and cook the fish you caught while the stars begin to shine over this peaceful lake.
Places to visit in Ooty: Take a Scenic Ride
5. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain Toy Train is like something out of a storybook as it pulls its quaint wooden carriages with large picture windows along the tracks. It runs from Mettupalayam to Ooty, going past Coonoor in the Nilgiri Hills.
With one of Asia’s steepest tracks climbing from 1,069 feet up to 7,228 feet above sea level, through tunnels and over bridges, going past ravines and forests and tea plantations, you will leave all your cares below as you ride along.
6. Doddabetta Peak
Doddabetta, which means ‘Big Hill’ in Kannada is the highest point in the Nilgiri Hills. A very popular destination it is accessible by road right up to the summit. And once you are there, the panoramic view is breathtaking.
The hill rises from heavily forested area with rhododendron trees, and alpine shrubs and herbs lending a heady fragrance to the air. A very nice romantic place, there is also a telescope at the watchtower to take in the scenes.
Places to visit in Ooty: Gardens
7. Government Rose Garden
Ooty’s climate is perfect for roses to bloom, and bloom they do on Elk Hill. The garden has over twenty thousand varieties of roses growing including miniature roses, ramblers, tea roses and more, adopted from all the corners of the earth.
There are roses in colours that you may have never even dreamt of, such as green and black. The garden’s observation platform, Nila Maadam, lets you take in the entire view of the garden as you breathe in the sweet air.
8. Thread Garden
An unusual but very beautiful attraction in Ooty is the Thread Garden. Here you will find a collection of gorgeous flowers and plants all made of, you guessed it, thread! With an estimated 6 crore meters of thread has been used and the skill with which these blooms have been weaved is amazing.
All have been hand woven painstakingly by talented craftspeople and the overall effect is completely delightful! Thread Garden is a very unique place to visit in Ooty.
Places to visit in Ooty: Trekking and walking
9. Shooting Point
The climb up to the main viewing point is enjoyable in itself but once you get there prepare to have your jaw drop. The simply splendorous scenic beauty of shooting point has made it the go to location for many films.
The lush greenery, the beautiful lake, the sky itself is just the very definition of picturesque so don’t forget your camera. There is also horse riding available but to truly take your time and take in the beauty walking around is recommended.
10. Dolphin’s Nose
Known as Dolphin’s Nose because the peak looks exactly like one, and situated one thousand feet above sea level, this viewing point offers one of the most spectacular views in Ooty.
There are ravines and hills, valleys and tea plantations, and most wonderful of all is the stunning view of Catherine Falls thousands of feet below. One of Ooty’s most beautiful spots, it is definitely worth the trek there.
Places to visit in Ooty: Educational & Fun
11. Radio Astronomy
Science and Astronomy fans rejoice! This super interesting research center is part of the National Center for Radio Astrophysics and is government funded through the Department of Atomic Energy.
The Ooty Radio Telescope is 1,740 feet long and 98 feet wide and is currently being used for the study of interplanetary scintillation observations which is crucial for understanding solar wind magnetic storms and their effect on the near-earth environment. It is ideal for a short stop, but prior permission is required to enter, so do call ahead!
12. The Chocolate Museum
A delicious little side trip must be made to the Chocolate Museum if you are on your way to Pykara. The museum shows the process of how chocolate is made right from the bean.
There are many varieties of chocolate exhibited and sold here and the chocolate is not made with oil but with real cacao butter and cane sugar. You get a little sample with the entry fee and can buy as much as you want. A really lovely tasty trip.
13. Second World War Memorial Pillar
Situated within the Military Cantonment of Wellington, near the railway station, the War Memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives fighting in WW2. There are several model war airplanes on show.
There is also the Wellington Military Hospital built in 1860 and a golf course which gives visitors a rare glimpse into the army life during the British Raj. The cantonment is still active and used by the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army and makes for an interesting visit.
Places to visit in Ooty: Religious
14. Venkateshwara Perumal Temple
Considered one of the most important temples in Ooty, Venkateshwara Perumal Temple draws local devotees and tourists alike. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu it celebrates all festivals with great fervor.
The sanctum is full of colorful murals. The atmosphere of this place of worship is calming and it makes for an interesting cultural, architectural and religious visit.
Places to visit in Ooty: Shopping for goodies
15. Commercial Road
Growing organically since the 1800s, Commercial Road is a famous roadway through the foothills of Ooty. With sweet tiled shops still lining it, it has been and still is one of the main commercial trading areas.
You can buy homemade chocolate, essential oils like eucalyptus, jewellery, antiques, leather goods and more here. Its junction Charing Cross is a charming and interesting place to shop, where you can pick up Toda embroidery and antiques. If you catch the Tibetan market, you will be spoiled for choice with their bright, beautiful woollen clothes at a bargain.
Besides all the fun things to do and see, Ooty is perfect for just taking a quick break. The weather is lovely and the food is delicious. What would you do in Ooty? Tell us in the comments below.